Archive for June, 2017


At long last, the for-sale version of The Four Color Hack arrives at a virtual store near you. The revised, improved rules include streamlined, flexible ways to use Hero Dice to better simulate comic book action. Eleven villains make their debut in the rules as well.

If you’ve previously downloaded TFCH, you should have received an e-mail about the update. If not, the game sells for $3 US, but you can get it for $2 US by using this discount link (which expires at the end of July). Before the start of next week, I’ll also have updated Battle in Jurgen Zeeger Park, a short scenario for TFCH. If you’ve downloaded Zeeger Park, you should receive an e-mail about the updated file when it’s updated.

Here’s a new villain for TFCH suitable for a WWII-era setting:

Level 5 Villain

Quote: “I will crush you!”
Real Name: Bernd Kalbfleisch
Identity: Secret
Place of Birth: Essen, Germany
Height: 6 ft. 2 in. (7 ft. 2 in. in armor)
Weight: 200 lbs. (600 lbs. in armor)
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Brown

Hit Points: 30 (5 Vigor)
Base Damage: 1d12
Powers: Jet-Assisted Leap d10, Mechanical Genius d10, V-2 Eisenmann Power Armor d12 (7 protection, 2d12 damage)

Bernd Kalbfleisch was an early and avid supporter of the Nazis. After Adolf Hitler was appoint chancellor in 1933, Kalbfleisch quickly rose to prominence thanks to his mechanical genius and zeal to help rebuild Germany into a formidable military power. To his end, Kalbfleisch designed and built his Eisenmann Power Armor. In order to prove its effectiveness, he donned the armor himself and used it to crush resistance to the Nazis, operating in conjunction with the Sturmabteilung. Once the war started in September 1939, Kalbfleisch unveiled his second design. Now a member of the Schutzstaffel, Kalbfleisch splits his time between his laboratories and the field, where he aids the Wehrmacht under the code name Eisenmann.

Kalbfleisch’s armor greatly augments his strength, enabling him to lift about 25 tons. It also protects him from harm. The powerful jets built into the armor’s legs and feet permit jet-assisted leaps of about 320 yards. Kalbfleisch is a brilliant mechanical engineer, and he often field tests new devices. Use the d10 from Mechanical Genius as a Hero Die to “purchase” new devices to use against the heroes, splitting the d10 into at least 2d8.

June 29th, 2017  in Spes Magna News No Comments »

The Dread Warrior

For I hear many whispering. Terror is on every side! “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” say all my familiar friends, watching for my fall. “Perhaps he will be deceived, then we can overcome him, and take our revenge on him.” But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, they will not overcome me. (Jeremiah 20:10-11)

The Dread Warrior fights to defend holy causes against infidels, scoffers, blasphemers, and other evil-doers. He lacks the raw power and martial skill of the Warrior, but his righteous devotion grants him the ability to inspire dread in those he faces.

Dread Warrior
Starting HP: d8 + 4
HP Per Level/Resting: 1d8
Weapons & Armor: Any and All
Attack Damage: 1d8 / 1d4 Unarmed or Improvising

Special Features
Once per hour while in combat, a Dread Warrior can regain 1d6 lost HP.

When confronting evil-doers opposed to the Dread Warrior’s holy cause, the Dread Warrior inspires fear using his Dreadful Mien Usage Die, which starts at a d4 at 1st level. This fear affects a number of Hit Dice of enemies equal to the die’s roll plus the Dread Warrior’s level. For the next few minutes, the Dread Warrior rolls with Advantage against those foes.

The Dread Warrior rolls with Advantage when resisting effects that affect his emotions or loyalties.

Leveling Up
Roll to see if attributes increase. Roll twice for STR and CHA.

Every odd numbered level, step up the Dreadful Mien die.

June 26th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »


In the picture, we see Thérèse of Lisieux in costume as Joan of Arc. The photograph dates from early 1895, about two years before Thérèse’s death from tuberculosis at the age of 24. Her sainthood was declared in May 1925 by Pius IX. Thérèse is the patron saint of aviators, florists, and those who suffer illnesses. Along with Francis Xavier, Thérèse is the patron of missions, and she and Joan are co-patrons of France. John Paul II declared Thérèse a Doctor of the Church in 1997, an honor Thérèse shares with three other women and about 30 men, an impressive accomplishment for such a young lady. Thérèse had a special fondness for Joan of Arc. You can read more about Thérèse at this site.

“But now,” [Jesus] said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!” (The Gospel According to St. Luke 22:36)


Background & Origin: Emmanuelle Paquet, orphan and raised in a convent school by Discalced Carmelites, received an exceptional education growing up, to include a most unusual course of rigorous training in swordsmanship by Sister Joaquina de Olot, who had been a skilled athlete before taking vows. Emmanuelle also embraced an ethos focused on the works of mercy. After completing her schooling, Emmanuelle left the convent, taking on a position as a music tutor and earning additional monies as a secretary for a law office. In the latter position, Emmanuelle saw first-hand the effects of crime and poverty on people, especially on women and children.

The plight of several families at the hands of Hugo Mesrine, an extortionist and racketeer, greatly disturbed Emmanuelle. The young lady donned a costume and armed herself with sword and shield. Over a period of several days, Emmanuelle brought the fight to Mesrine and his criminal cohorts. She protected those families, disrupted Mesrine’s operations, and gathered evidence against Mesrine. The Parisian press exploded with sensational stories of a mysterious female vigilante. One journalist, picking up on the religious motifs of Emmanuelle’s costume and exploits, dubbed her Bellatrix, and the name stuck. In the end, Mesrine’s operations were crippled, and Mesrine himself found himself facing a date with Madame Guillotine. The Parisian underworld was shaken to its roots, and the people of Paris largely embraced Bellatrix as their protectress.

Motivation: To serve God and fight evil!

Qualities: Master [+6] Swordswoman, Master [+6] Gadget: Shield, Expert [+4] Athlete, Good [+2] Classical Education, Good [+2] Contacts with the Press, Good [+2] Criminology, Good [+2] Devotion to St. Joan of Arc, Good [+2] Hero of the People, Good [+2] Polyglot, Poor [-2] Ability to Compromise

Powers: None

Stunts: Expert [+4] Ricochet Shield Throw (Gadget: Shield Spin-Off, 1 HP)

Hero Point Pool: 5/10

June 24th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

The Search

A movie review I wrote way back in August 2013 (with some edits):

I watched The Bothersome Man, an unrated Norwegian film. The film’s protagonist, Andreas (Trond Fausa Aurvåg), finds himself in a clean, efficient city after being dropped off by a bus at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. He’s given a job as an accountant, and a clean and efficient apartment which comes fully furnished, to include a wardrobe full of clean, efficient suits. His co-workers are polite and well-groomed.

Andreas’s first clue that something is wrong with this new world happens when he finds himself in the men’s room of a nightclub. An unseen man in a stall laments loudly, sadly that no matter how he drinks he can’t get drunk. He complains that hot chocolate no longer tastes or smells good. Andreas, curious about this sad man, follows him home to where the man lives in a basement apartment.

The movie progresses, and Andreas moves from one scene to the next, becoming more aware that no one around him has any real passion for life. The most common adjective used to describe things is “nice”. Andreas’s girlfriend Anne (Petronella Barker) says he’s nice. He has nice conversations with nice people, usually about the nice things they can buy from nice catalogs. Andreas and his girlfriend have nice furniture. Their meals are nice. When Andreas starts an affair with a lady in his office, she also informs Andreas that he is nice. In fact, he’s just as nice as all her other boyfriends. Even in the most intimate of relationships, one person is just as nice as the next.

Driven to the point of despair, Andreas tries to commit suicide by jumping in front of a subway train. Not to give too much more of the movie away, but it doesn’t work. He limps out of the tunnel, is picked up by the ubiquitous jump-suited men who patrol the city, and is taken to Anne’s house. He stands there, broken and bleeding, and Anne informs him they have a date to go ride go-carts.

Andreas lives in a utilitarian world, where everyone’s happiness is maximized, but where there is no yearning for the true, the good, or the beautiful. Indeed, expressing such yearning is met with disapproval. Andreas confesses to his boss that he misses seeing children (for there are no children in a clean, efficient city). The only response Andreas gets is to be quickly ignored, as if he had just said something that no one would ever admit in polite company.

The real world — the world in which at least some things are genuinely and objectively true, good, and/or beautiful — is not a clean, efficient, polite place that can be described by so weak a word as nice. The real world is glorious and tragic and scary and awe-inspiring and depressing and wonderfully full of such a mess of thoughts, sights, sounds, and experiences. The classical liberal arts embrace this apparent chaos, and seek to find the order beneath the mess of contradictions.

I often remind myself, and I remind my students, the search isn’t without hope. Through the proper use of reason, we can discover the true, the good, and the beautiful, and we can at least begin to understand that those three qualities are not always a matter of mere opinion. Some things are truly true, truly good, truly beautiful, and to disagree about those things isn’t to express an opinion. To disagree is to be wrong.

The search for the true, the good, and the beautiful isn’t easy. Many people give up after one too many disappointments. But, I am reminded of the words of a wise man. To paraphrase, those that seek without surrender will eventually find what they’re looking for.

June 23rd, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

Grasping the Ineffable

Lately, I’ve mulled about using Monster of the Week to run a Call of Cthulhu-style game that would be more about investigating unspeakable horrors than confronting monsters and destroying them. One of my thoughts involves replacing Luck with Madness, and treating Madness much like Harm. I’m not quite sure what that means. Regardless, I did fiddle about with a couple of new basic moves. A hunter’s Weird rating would modify that hunter’s Madness. For example, a hunter with Weird +2 would have two fewer Madness boxes.

Grasp the Ineffable
When you attempt to understand the unfathomable nature of cosmic horror, roll + Weird.

On a 10+, hold 2 and 0-madness. On a 7-9, hold 1 and 1-madness.

One hold can be spent to ask the Keeper a question. Use the questions for investigate a mystery or read a bad situation. If you act on the answers, you get +1 ongoing while the information is relevant.

Advanced: On a 12+, you may ask the Keeper any questions you want about the cosmic horror, not just the listed ones.

Maintain Sanity
When you confront sanity-blasting eldritch terror, roll + Cool.

On a 10+, you do not succumb to the terror you feel. You suffer less madness (-1 madness). On a 7-9, choose 1:

* You briefly lose control in the face of the terror. The Keeper will give you a worse outcome, hard choice, or price to pay, but you gain hold 1 as if you attempted to grasp the ineffable. This does not grant +1 ongoing while the information is relevant.
* You maintain composure, but are shaken. You get -1 ongoing until you get a chance to collect yourself.

Advanced: On a 12+, not only do you not succumb to the terror you feel, but you may choose 1:

* You gain hold 1 as if you attempted to grasp the ineffable. This does not grant +1 ongoing while the information is relevant.
* Your courage rallies all hunters involved in the confrontation, giving them +1 forward.
* You suffer no madness at all.
* You recover 1-madness.

June 21st, 2017  in RPG No Comments »